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THE RAMPART SCANDAL

Judge Refuses to Restrict Rampart Officers

March 01, 2000|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A federal judge refused late Tuesday to issue a temporary restraining order that would have barred police from contacts with young male Latinos in the Rampart area who have been identified as suspected gang members and who might be illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow said the requested order was too broad and would have impeded the current investigation into alleged misconduct by officers in the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit.

The emergency order was sought by attorneys Gregory A. Yates and Dana B. Taschner in connection with a civil rights suit they filed on behalf of four Latinos. The four said they were targeted for deportation by the Rampart CRASH--or anti-gang--unit to prevent them from testifying about police misconduct.

Under a 21-year-old department policy, Los Angeles police officers "shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." The policy, established by former Chief Daryl F. Gates, was intended to overcome the reluctance of illegal immigrants to report crimes and testify as witnesses.

In their request for a temporary restraining order, Yates and Taschner cited a Los Angeles Times report last week that members of the Rampart Division anti-gang squad systematically circumvented the policy by colluding with a little-known unit of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

But Deputy City Atty. Kim R. Westhoff told the judge on Tuesday that there is no evidence proving that the allegations are true. Gates' policy, she assured the judge, is still in effect.

Morrow also rejected the plaintiffs' demand for a list of all young male Latinos who were questioned by Rampart CRASH officers and whose names were turned over to the INS. That request, she said, also was overly broad and vague.

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